Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri
"Those who never make it are not aware"
Oh how do I begin my review of JCVD. Oh screw it. I loved this film from beginning to end. And I'm not just saying that because we here at the jaded viewer are big fuckin JCVD fans.
To get a full appreciation of JCVD one has to know the panorama that is Van Damme's career. Insano Steve and I are mother fuckin experts when it comes to this as we've seen every one of his movies.
Let me say that again so you all can understand the rarity of such a thing.
WE'VE SEEN EVERY JEAN CLAUDE VAN DAMME MOVIE EVER MADE.
This includes the JCVD golden era (Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Lionheart, Universal Soldier etc), the JCVD Silver era (Hard Target, Time Cop, Sudden Death) and the JCVD Bronze era (The Quest, Maximum Risk, US: The Return). Of course, there is the JCVD Bargain Bin era (his straight to DVD made in Bulgaria, character action flicks which include Replicant, In Hell, Second in Command, etc.)
So experts would be us. I mean we even established a JCVD spinkick rating system.
So believe me when I say that we can safely put JCVD into the pantheon that is the golden era. It's got a docu feel filled with more or less some truthiness. If you could make a pseudo memoir into a movie, this would be it. Add the fact it's freakin funny as hell and has some genuine emotion from Van Damme, you've got Van Damme's first character driven flick he's ever made.
And I gotta admit, Van Damme plays himself perfectly.
Between his tax problems and his legal battle with his wife for the custody of his daughter, these are hard times for the action movie star. In JCVD, Jean-Claude Van Damme returns to the country of his birth but finds himself in the middle of a robbery gone awry.
From the opening scene of a one take action scene taking place in a nameless war zone, I was getting my spinkick on. JCVD was kicking the crap out of baddies, shooting them out of the sky and saving the damsel in distress.
Ahh the action hero of all action heroes as we all see him via the cinema. But as we plopped along, we delved into a biopic mode and saw how are former action hero as to cope with the custody of his daughter and make a living as a Bulgarian action star.
The film is told in four non-linear sections showing different persepctives. We see the public’s POV of the events, Van Damme’s POV, and before and after the robbery.
Each little tidbit gives us a glimpse into JCVD, how he's perceived and how he perecives himself.
It's Van Damme's acting (I'm serious!) that can't be ignored. In some sporadic moments, Van Damme's english accent is dominant, but the natural French speaking JCVD portrays himself effortlessly (hey why don't you try acting as a hyper meta variation of yourself, I think it's fuckin hard).
Each of the section's has highlights that create a complex man, one that even E's A True Hollywood story couldn't do justice.
Van Damme's many fans are present as taxi cab drivers, video store clerks, cops and bank robbers are in awe of the man. One improvised scene has JCVD chatting up a taxi cab woman as fan meets superstar. Done so well, so simple, you appreciate a scene where only a few words tell an emotional landscape.
Another scene has a "big" fan have JCVD show off his trademark high leg kick. Every JCVD fan gets it. We get his "stretching" abilities, his kick ass persona, his Hollywood "He brought John Woo to America".
In one final climactic scene, we get what we wanted as we see Van Damme kicks ass in front of the crowd. He then proceeds to high five fellow officers and taps his chest in a moment of total self ego. Totally fuckin awesome. So classic. So Van Damme.
Before the Robbery
As JCVD fights for the custody of his daughter, we see via flashbacks as a lawyer bashes JCVD on the flicks he has made (see the trailer). Totally funny, dead on and inside joke heavy. We also peek in on convos JC has with his agent.
The best lines stem from JC's "Bulgaria producer funded flicks" (so true) and his character action motivated films. He soon finds out he has lost a part to his nemesis Steven Seagal (because Seagal was willing to cut off his dumbass pony tail) . Seagal still makes movies? Really?
Oh how the mighty have fallen. The true JCVD fans know EXACTLY what he's talking about which make it an atomic bomb of full on hilarity.
Van Damme’s POV
As the robbery progresses, JCVD is thought to be the mastermind behind the robbery. In truth, 3 bumbling robbers are keeping everybody hostage and using Van Damme to make their demands. It's Van Damme's authenticity of helping the hostages and saving his own ass that make JC's performance so mesmerizing.
The truly standout scene is initiated where we see him have a out of body floating-ish monologue about his past drug addictions, his family and wives and the price of Hollywood stardom.
It was like a spinkick of acting. A Dim Mak right into the stomach. Van Damme screaming "Uncle". Totally fuckin mesmerizing.
After the Robbery
The ending is seemingly a parody of real life stars in goofy improbable situations. But it ends nicely. Touching and emotional. Totally NOT LIKE a regular JCVD flick.
Like driving on a hill, we get some highs and lows. Awesome-rific moments of pure funnyness, some real nitty gritty suspense and action, wads of gut wrenching, crying Van Damme emotions and a character variation of this man called Jean Claude Van Damme.
You couldn't write a better character. Because you can't make this stuff up because most of it is true.
Awesome flick. One of the top 5 movie of 2008 easily.
Watch all of JCVDs library of flicks
Gore-ipedia (if you want to be shocked don't read)
Hahahahahaha. This isn't gore you're looking for. Move along.
Nude-ipedia (because you like boobies)
It's this scene I mentioned before.
[We get what we wanted as we see Van Damme kicks ass in front of the crowd. He then proceeds to high five fellow officers and taps his chest in a moment of total self ego. Totally fuckin awesome. So classic. So Van Damme.]
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
You knew I was going to give this 4 spinkicks didn't you? One of the best movies of 2008. For the true JCVD fan, this has to be seen. For the art house, indie movie crowd, it's perfect.
JCVD was suppose to be on hand for a Q and A after the movie but alas he had to care for his sick dog or was it reshoots for Full Love, I'm not sure anymore.
Insano Steve says that Van Damme is not allowed in the country anymore. We also realized we hadn't seen a Van Damme movie in the theatre since 1999.
I was glad to see JCVD back in the theatres. It was about fuckin time.
Check out the trailer.
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